Last Updated:

May 21, 2010

Buckley on the PA

Excerpt from: Rev. Eric Rede Buckley, Introduction to the Synoptic Problem, (London, 1912) 208-211

Secondary Title


Page Index

Review: - Buckley on PA

    Textual Evidence - Opening Remarks
    Synoptic Stylisms - in the PA
    Other Stylisms - from Luke's Source T
    Non-Lucan Elements - in the PA
    New Textual History - explaining textual evidence
    Luke 24:12 - more evidence of Source T
    Luke 24:36 - 'historic present' again appears
    Eusebius/Papias - story is ambiguous and vague
    Conclusion - Source T is best solution


Buckley on the PA

Rev. Eric Rede Buckley's (London, 1912) represents a small watershed in Synoptic studies, essentially solidifying what is now the concensus view, i.e., Markan Priority. In the process of investigating the Synoptic Problem, Buckley examines the linguistic evidence in reasonable detail.

Lukan Stylisms

His examination of Luke's stylisms are reasonably thorough and still hold up well. He is also balanced and honest regarding contradictory and ambiguous aspects of the linguistic evidence, and is highly aware of the problematic issue of "sources" in evaluating such evidence. His observations and insights cannot be ignored in any discussion of "Lukanisms" today, as they remain germaine to the problem.

Luke's Source T

Buckley manages to unearth the main linguistic evidence for Luke's other source(s), namely the hypothetical Source T. This source may these days be subsumed under the heading "Q", but Buckley's approach has the advantage of not assuming that Matthew's and Luke's sources were identical, and helps to keep the Special Matthew and Special Luke material in contrasting relief. "Q" as such does little to explain the glaring differences between these two groups of materials.

Buckley on the PA

Buckley's examination of the Pericope de Adultera (PA, Jn 7:53-8:11) is reasonably thorough for a sidebar, spanning about 5 pages. In it he makes plain the fact that the PA has Non-Lukan features as well as Synoptic and Lukan ones. This evidence is extremely important, for it undermines any simple theory that Luke is the author of the PA.

Buckley is thoroughly aware of the problem facing "Lukan authorship" theories here. In embracing the status quo view of the textual evidence (which is a matter of dispute now), he is forced to attribute the PA to Luke's other source, Source T.

McLachlan on Buckley

This is important, since a few years later Herbert McLachlan (1920) rejects Buckley's argument and also minimizes and ignores Buckley's evidence, in his own examination of the PA. McLachlan attempts to trace the PA as starting in the lost Gospel to the Hebrews, being adopted (and edited) by Luke, then removed and inserted in John. McLachlan even goes so far as to obscure Buckley's position when quoting him as support for his own view.

Buckley on Papias/Eusebius

But Buckley has already rightly rejected the evidence of Papias found in Eusebius' Eccl.Hist as vague, ambiguous, and completely indeterminate. McLachlan fails to acknowledge the weight of Buckley's work and also the low evaluation of Eusebius by Buckley and many other scholars.

Buckley on the Textual Evidence

Buckley only briefly glances at the textual evidence (and not much of that). He has already accepted the verdict of textual critics, and his main concern is a viable solution to the Synoptic Problem (the question of the interdependancy between the Synoptic Gospels and also John). This problem by nature is one that deals with the pre-history of the Gospels, not the textual history after they were written.

Buckley on the Internal Evidence

Nonetheless, Buckley's work represents an important step in advancing the study of the Internal Evidence regarding the PA and the NT, and this has helped to raise the perception of the value of this evidence. Buckley especially shows that a purely Lukan Origin for the PA is not credible.

Pericope Adulterae

NOTE 2: Jn 7:53-8:11

The episode of the woman taken in adultery is no part of John's Gospel, though in the Textus Receptus (TR) it figures as John 7:53-8:11. The external evidence is overwhelming against it: none of the great Uncial MSS. save Codex D have it, nor do some of the best cursives; in some of the MSS which have it, it is placed elsewhere, in four cases not in John at all but after Luke 21.

Its early currency is, however, shown by the fact that it occurs in Codex D (4th cent.), in most of the Old Latin copies (3rd cent.), and in the Jerusalem Syriac Lectionary (SyrPal, 2nd cent.), while Jerome (c. 390 A.D.) speaks of it as being "in many Greek and Latin MSS".

The internal evidence, both as regards the general tone and the literary style of the passages, suggests its connection with the Synoptic Gospels rather than John.

If it occurred in a larger number of MSS or in any of the oldest uncials after Luke 21, it would be easy to believe that that was its original place; but the fact that it is so placed only by 4 cursives, all belonging to the same group (the Ferrar Group=Family 13, 9th-11th cent.), is against this supposition.

If the majority of critics who regard it as a genuine piece of evangelic tradition are right, as there can be little doubt that they are, it will be well worth while carefully to consider its relation to the synoptic tradition, and see whether any probable theory can be found as to its origin.

Synoptic Stylisms

The style of the passage as a whole is akin to that of the Synoptic Gospels, so the question which we will first consider is whether this passage shows closer affinities to one of the synoptists (i.e. Luke) than to the others. In order to do this, certain words and phrases found both here and in the synoptists must be examined.

8:1 'The mount of Olives' (Ελαιων). We find the same form three times in Matthew, three times in Mark, and twice in Luke (19:37, 22:39). Twice in Luke we find 'the mount called of Olives' (19:29, 21:37) ; in Acts 1:12 we find 'the mount called Olivet' (Ελαιωνος): these are the only occurrences in the NT. The insertion of the word 'called' (καλουμενον) before a proper name is not found in Matthew and Mark.

8:2 'Early dawn' (ορθρου). This word occurs elsewhere in the NT; only in Luke 24:1 / Acts 5:21. An adjective formed from it is found in Luke 24:22 ('certain women being early at the tomb'). Mark and Matthew use other expressions in the passages parallel to Luke 24:1. So the word may be reckoned as a link with Luke.

'Came' (παργενετο) is very common in Acts, and occurs fairly frequently in Luke, but only thrice in Matthew and once in Mark. The reading, however, is doubtful here.

'Again' (παλιν). Very common in Matthew and Mark ; only twice in Luke ; six times in Acts. The usage here is similar to that of Mark, and it is worth noting that Luke habitually omits the word from the passages where it is found in Mark. Its usage here, then, may be considered as non- Lucan. Further, it is interesting as probably indicating that this passage originally occurred in a continuous narrative, containing a previous reference to Christ being in the temple.

'All the people' (πας ο λαος) . This phrase occurs once in Matthew 27:25, not at all in Mark, 9 times in Luke (and a similar phrase (απας) twice), and 5 times in Acts (ch. 1-12), also Acts 13:24. The phrase, then, may be regarded as distinctively Lucan.

'Having sat down he taught' The same phrase occurs in Luke 5:3 only : similar expressions are found in Matt. 5:1 and Luke 4:20.

8:3 'They bring' (αγουσιν). An historic present (cf. v4): a construction common in Matthew, very common in Mark, but rare, especially in narrative, in Luke. Once only, does Luke 8:49 reproduce it when he is drawing from Mark. Of the other five cases which occur in the narrative, all occur in those portions which we have seen reason to attribute to the source T, though the passages in which two of these occur, viz. 14:12,36 , are bracketed by Westcott & Hort as probably spurious. This construction is also found 5 times in parables in Luke, all of them being parables peculiar to this Gospel, and 13 times in Acts. It is certainly not a distinctively Lucan construction. It may, however, be regarded as distinctive of source T: for of its 11 (or 9) occurrences in Luke all save one (which is in a passage parallel to Mark) occur in source T passages.

'The Scribes and Pharisees' This phrase occurs 9 times in Matthew (8 of these being in Chapter 23.), not at all in Mark, and 3x in Luke.

8:5 'Thou therefore' (συ ουν). This phrase is not found in Matthew or Mark: it occurs in Luke 4:7, 22:70 and once in Acts.

8:6 'That they might have to accuse him' The construction of 'have' (εχειν)> with a verb in the infinitive dependent on it, is found once in Matthew, 5 times in Luke, 6 times in Acts: it may therefore be regarded as Lucan.

8:7 'Continued'' (επιμενειν) is not found in the Gospels, but is frequent in Acts.

'To lift up' (ανακυπτειν), cf. v. 10. Occurs in Luke 13:11, 21:28, and nowhere else in NT.

8:9 'One by one' (εις καθ' εις). Elsewhere in NT, only in Mark 14:11.

'Beginning from' (αρξαμενοι απο) is found once in Matthew, 3x in Luke (23:5, 24:27, 47), 3x in Acts 1-12.

'The eldest' (πρεσβυτερος). In its original sense this word is found in the NT only here and in Luke 15:25; elsewhere in the NT it always has a technical sense, i.e. elders of the Jewish or Christian Church.

'Alone' (μονος). This word is used in this sense in all the synoptists (cf. especially Luke 9:36, 10:40) ; it does not occur in Acts.

8:11 'From henceforth' (απο του νυν}. This phrase is not found in Matthew or Mark: it occurs once only in Acts, but 5 times in Luke (1:48, 5:10, 12:52, 22:18, 69), 4 of which are in source T passages.

Reviewing this evidence, we find that at first sight it appears somewhat conflicting. The use of the following words and phrases 'early dawn,' 'came' (παρεγενετο), 'all the people,' 'having sat down he taught,' ' thou therefore,' ' have ' (followed by an infinitive), 'continued,' 'beginning from,' 'the eldest,' 'from henceforth,' all point to a connection between this passage and Luke.

On the other hand, the use of the historic present and the manner in which the word again is employed, are rather against this conclusion.

The solution of the problem which we would offer is that this passage is not the work of Luke, but is derived from his source T.

Stylisms from Luke's Source T

Of the words and phrases of this passage which we have been considering, the following are found in the source T portions of Luke :

 (1) 'Early dawn'

 (2) 'Came' 6 of the 8 occurrences.

 (3) Use of historic present: all save the one parallel to Mark.

 (4) 'He sat down and taught': only occurrence, similar expression (4:20).

 (5) 'Thou therefore' both times when source T was used.

 (6) 'To have' followed by the infinitive : all 5 cases.

 (7) 'To lift up' certainly one of the 2 cases.

 (8) 'Beginning from' all 3 cases.

 (9) 'The eldest' the only case.

 (10) 'From henceforth' certainly 4, perhaps all 5.

If the question were simply to explain the points of similarity between this passage and Luke's Gospel, there would be no difficulty in considering all these words and phrases as due to the evangelist himself, for 7 of the 10 occur in Acts.

Non-Lucan Stylisms

The question is, however, complicated by the presence of a non-Lucan element: especially the use of an historic present twice in a short passage, and of the word 'again'

The expressions 'thou therefore,' ' from henceforth, ' 'early dawn,' are found in Luke and Acts, but not in Matthew and Mark.

The word 'alone' is found in Matthew, Mark and Luke, the expression 'one by one' in Mark, but neither of them in Acts.

Further, it must be remembered that in the case of the distinctively Lucan word 'came' the reading is doubtful : while in the case of the expression ' all the people' 5 of the 6 occurrences in Acts are in Ch. 1-12, for which there is reason to think Luke possessed a written source.

It may be said, then, that if our theory of the existence of source T and Luke's use of it be correct, the wording of this passage is quite consistent with its having formed a part of source T; and, indeed, such a supposition best explains the combination of Lucan and non-Lucan elements in it.

Reconstructing a Textual History

We have already stated that this episode is placed in some MSS. after Luke 21:37, 38. These verses run :

' But he was by day in the Temple teaching, but by night he went out and lodged in the mount called of Olives, and all the people gathered to him in the temple to hear him.'

The connection is most appropriate ; but if the episode was in reality a part of Luke's Gospel, how are we to account for its ever having dropped out?

Our suggestion is that Luke found it in source T, but omitted it because of a certain similarity it bore to the story of the woman who was a sinner: for Luke seems to have avoided giving accounts of similar events (e.g. he omits the anointing at Bethany, the feeding of the four thousand, the walking on the sea, all of which are somewhat akin to events he does relate, viz. the anointing in the Pharisee's house, the feeding of the five thousand, the stilling of the storm).

The language of the episode has, however, left its trace on Luke 21:37, 38 especially in the phrases 'mount of Olives,' 'all the people.' It is noteworthy, however, that here Luke uses an expression characteristic of himself, 'the mount called of Olives ' (cf. xix. 29, a passage based on Mark): this form of expression, it is true, is found in source T passages, but being common in Acts, is probably due to the evangelist himself.

It is possible, then, that the occurrence of this episode in Luke's Gospel in some MSS. may not be due merely to an arbitrary act of a copyist, but may have been due to the fact that it was inserted in some copy at an early date by a copyist who knew the source from which much of the Gospel was drawn, as well as the Gospel itself.

Corroborating Evidence I: Luke 24:12

Two cases, now usually regarded as insertions in Luke, are worth considering:

I. Luke 24:12

'But Peter, rising up, ran to the tomb, and bending down he seeth the linen clothes alone: and he departed to his own wondering at what had happened.'

Though strongly supported by the external evidence, this verse is omitted by most modern editors as spurious; the supposition being that it is inserted from matter found in John 20:4-10, the relevant parts of which we give

'Then Peter and the other disciples . . . went to the tomb . . . and the other disciple bending down seeth the linen clothes lying . . . then the disciples departed again to their own.'

The italics mark striking agreements in wording.

The textual evidence for the insertion of the verse is א B and other uncials, the Sinaitic and Curetonian Syriac, the Vulgate, and some old Latin MS. ; against it, D, some old Latin, and the Canon of Eusebius.

Now Blass has pointed out that Luke 24:24;

'And some of those with us went to the tomb and found as the women had said,'

which is universally attested, seems to require the genuineness of 5:12 also. But if it is genuine, how is the likeness to John to be explained? As an alternative to the usual explanation, that the verse is an interpolation in Luke derived from John, we would suggest that the verse stood originally in source T, and was derived thence by John, whose similarities with the latter part of Luke are considered later. In this case the verse will either be genuine in Luke, or will have been inserted at a very early date by a copyist who was acquainted with source T.

In it we notice an historic present, 'seeth', characteristic of source T rather than of the evangelist: 'rising up' (αναστας), which, though found in all the synoptists and Acts, is commonest in the source T portions of Luke and the first 12 chapters of Acts (10 at least of the 16 occurrences in the Gospel being in source T parts, and 12 of the 18 in Acts ch 1-12). 'Ran' (εδραμεν), which is omitted by Luke in both the passages in which it occurs in Mark, is found in Luke elsewhere only in a source T passage (15:20). 'Alone' (μονα) is not found at all in Acts. The word 'to wonder' followed by an accusative as object, is found only here and Luke 7:9 in the synoptists ; it occurs once in Acts 7:31.

Corroborating Evidence II: Luke 24:36

II. Luke 24:36 . 'And saith to them, Peace to you.' These words, as well as the 12th verse, are usually regarded as a later insertion derived from John. The evidence for the omission or retention is similar in the two cases, so that here again the external evidence is strongly in favour of genuineness. If the twelfth verse stood in source T it is likely that this sentence did so as well. We notice the presence of an historic present, which tends to confirm the supposition, while the occurrence of parallels to Luke 24:12, 36 in John's Gospel will probably be the same in both cases.

The conclusion at which we arrive, then, with regard to these 2 passages, is that, whether originally part of Luke's Gospel or not, they were a part of his source T.

If this be so, every case of the use of an historic present in Luke, which is not derived from Mark, will be derived from source T.

Now the episode of the woman taken in adultery has been shown to belong to the Lucan cycle of tradition ; i.e. it comes originally either from Luke or one of his sources. The occurrence in it of two historic presents favours the latter conclusion, the other evidence from wording being of such a nature as to be compatible with either supposition. On the other hand, the absence of the episode from the great majority of the MSS. and versions of Luke, and its insertion in a few, are more easily explained on the view that it is a genuine fragment of one of his sources rather than of his Gospel.

Eusebius and Papias: Story Too Vague

On the strength of a passage in Eusebius's History, 3:39, this episode is often supposed to be derived from Papias, or the Gospel to the Hebrews. Eusebius's words are,

'He also gives another history of a woman who had been accused of many sins before the Lord, which is also contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.'

Now, in the first place, it is not certain that Eusebius is referring to the episode we are discussing at all: and even if he is, it does not follow that the episode, as it stands in the Gospel MSS, came from this source.

The relation of the Gospel to the Hebrews to the synoptic problem is considered in Chapter 12. Here it need only be said that the passage in Eusebius is too vague, and of too uncertain import, to cast much light on the subject.


We have dwelt at length on this episode because, if our view be correct that it stood originally in source T though not in Luke's Gospel, it shows us two things.

i. That source T contained some matter which Luke omitted.

ii. That in the matter of vocabulary there was a resemblance between Luke and source T, so that the occurrence of words and phrases in source T passages, which are found also in Acts, may be due to the source, and not in all cases to the evangelist.

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